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Lancaster Central School District

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Unified Bowling team celebrates title with plaque.
Inclusion at Forefront of Lancaster’s Inaugural Unified Bowling Season

As they ended their inaugural season with a Section VI title, the Lancaster High School unified bowling team celebrated their growth both as players and in their feelings of being a team. No matter their skill or abilities, every student had something to contribute.

“This team, they don’t like to give up,” said William Neuland, a Lancaster High School senior. “They keep going and they keep going strong. We don’t get upset. We keep rolling.”

That outlook helped the team as it joined dozens of school teams from around the region at Airport Lanes in Cheektowaga for Section VI’s season-ending culminating event.

Unified sports combines athletes with and without intellectual disabilities to make teams for training and competition. The new bowling team was created as part of the 2023-24 budget approved by district residents, following LHS’ success in fielding teams for unified basketball. A total of 27 students were a part of the bowling team for its first year.

“Our philosophy is we want all students included,” said Megan Anstett, the team’s coach as well as a special education teacher in the high school’s Life Skills program. “This has peers that may never have interacted join together and build a team. It's a small step and it can keep growing to all aspects of the high school.”

For William, the team was a chance to share the love for a sport he plays weekly.

“For me, it’s to help my friends, and to make them enjoy their experience,” William said. “It’s awesome to build friendships with all of the other kids and the teachers.”

Teammate Hailey Wittmeyer, also a senior, admitted she was not a good bowler, but called the time she’s spent with her teammates as something “I hold with me tight.” Over the course of the season, Hailey said she noticed the level of teamwork increasing.

“We all became a lot better at cheering each other on.” Hailey said. “Seeing how well everybody does as a team together, it’s an amazing experience to see.”

Anstett said she found inspiration as a coach in late educator Germaine Scofield, a longtime employee of the Lancaster Center School District who she described as a “fierce advocate” for inclusion.

“She didn’t stop until she got what she wanted, and that was all students to be included everywhere.” Anstett said. “She was a bright spot for everyone.”

That spirit of inclusion has Anstett excited for what the future holds for the team.

“The interest keeps growing and growing for next year,” she said. “They’re just looking forward to playing again.”

More information about athletics at the Lancaster Central School District can be found at https://www.lancasterschools.org/athletics.

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